New Year: New You? Not So Fast…

Did you make New Year’s Resolutions this year?

Set intentions?

Choose a word?

Set SMART goals?

Reflect on last year’s successes and setbacks?

If you did, congratulations, you are participating in the social rituals that bind a community together.

If you did not, congratulations, you are finding your individual path through the world.

Seriously, whatever you did was perfect.

Because you don’t need to change. At all. You are enough. You do enough. And whatever people think of you is none of your business.

You are naturally creative, resourceful, whole, and unique.

You always matter and you always belong, because you are always having impact, always co-creating the world.

Sure, you are flawed, dissatisfied, and incomplete. Of course, you are a work in progress with unfulfilled dreams, anxieties, fears, and habits that don’t always create the results you want. Because that is the human condition. That is the beauty of your humanness.

It is our incompleteness that allows us to adapt, to learn, to build communities and civilizations. It is our dissatisfaction that drives us to create beauty, truth, and goodness. It is our weakness that binds us to one another.

Part of the human condition is a tendency to distract ourselves from this truth, to try to avoid feeling the fears, dissatisfactions, and anxieties, to avoid seeing the flaws, incompleteness, and bad habits in ourselves.

What would be different if we accepted ourselves unconditionally, loved ourselves fully as we are, and stopped trying to make ourselves different?

And how could we do that?

Buddhist teacher, Pema Chödrön asks in Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears, “How can we start exactly where we are, with all our entanglements and still develop unconditional acceptance of ourselves instead of guilt and depression?” Her answer is a practice she calls compassionate abiding.

Compassionate abiding is a direct method of embracing our experience. When we realize that we are reactive, defensive, hooked, or self-rejecting, she teaches, we breathe in, allowing the feeling completely, and opening ourselves up to feeling it. We abide with the feeling, in all its edgy discomfort. As we breathe out, we relax, create space for the feeling, and notice the bigger context. We do not reject the feeling, we let it be what it is and loosen up our tension around it.

This is similar to stretching our muscles. Yoga teachers instruct their students to breath into the sensation of the stretch. Notice it. Relabel it sensation instead of pain. Be aware of it and lean into it.  

The discomfort you feel is the human condition. As you are aware of what you are feeling, know that this is what everybody feels. No matter what their lives look like on the outside, these feelings of fear, anxiety, weakness, and incompleteness exist in everybody. A yoga teacher of mine said that if you are practicing properly, you are working the pose at the precise point where you feel discomfort without pain and breathing to relax into the pose deeper. Inside, everybody feels the same stretch.

How can you abide more compassionately with yourself in the next year?

For my part, I choose to embrace grace. In InterPlay, grace is a physical embodiment of the opposite of stress. Grace starts a virtuous cycle of ease, creativity, calm, connectedness, and compassion. Choosing grace in an age of anxiety is a radical act and an ongoing practice. I, like all people, falter in my practice of grace and need a community of support system and practices in place. I have friends, colleagues, teachers, and a coach of my own to help me deepen my practice of grace and my commitment to being a Grace Operative (a person actively involved in increasing moments of grace for others without expectation of reward or recognition).

Who do you have in your community of support? What more do you need?

If you need support, asking for help is a form of wise self-care.

You can always schedule an appointment to talk to me about how I can support you through coaching.

But you don’t need to. You have everything you need within you.

Happy New Year!